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Studying by sound

If you're having trouble remembering the facts you read, you may be much better as an auditory learner, someone who needs to hear something to remember it. If you're a passive learner, hunched over your desk watching the textbook pages of history facts flip slowly by, you'll be lucky to remember 10 percent of what you see. Even people who aren't auditory learners remember 20 percent of what they hear. So close your eyes, visualize the facts with their dates, and say them to yourself.

As an auditory fan, while studying, make sure to say things like "First Great Awakening, Jonathan Edwards, 1730 — Revolution's Coming" out loud repeatedly to yourself with your eyes closed. (Don't do this in a crowded coffeehouse; people may think you're crazy instead of brilliant.)

Even if you do prefer sound to sight, in addition to saying the words, try forming them into a vivid picture in your mind; most folks can remember at least 30 percent of what they see.


A high-tech solution is available for auditory learners: You can actually scan text and have the facts read to you by a friendly computer voice. Text-to-speech is built into the operating systems of both Windows and Apple.

Studying through movement

Kinesthetic learners are hands-on people who concentrate better and learn more easily when movement is involved. Although you can't dance your way through the AP exam, you can learn to use movement sense to help your memory.

Kinesthetic people can make a scene into a movie in their heads. As you study, stand up and imagine yourself as Jonathan Edwards, pounding the pulpit and waving a "1730 — Revolution's Coming" banner. It doesn't matter how silly the connection is; in fact, the sillier the better.

Humor is an easy emotion to remember, and anything out of the ordinary is better than trying to remember gray words on paper. Then, during the test, remember your standing up as John Edwards. Chances are you'll remember the pulpit and the banner, too — key bits of info that can help you answer questions about him on the exam.

If you have to see the facts spatially because you are a kinesthetic learner, try putting color-coded sticky notes containing key facts in date order along a route that you take through your house. Walk that route several times, stopping to associate each fact with where you are standing. That way, you can associate facts with known locations. Don't leave the sticky notes up too long, though; your mother may come along and vacuum a hole in the 1800s.

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